Father-to-be, Still an atheist

This weekend my wife and I announced that we are having a baby. It’s always nice to share news like that.

After being able to share that news with everyone you’d think life would be honky-dory but sometimes you can’t go a day without douchebaggery.

Family and people I know from my previous life as a believer kept popping in to throw in their two cents about me being an atheist. The best part is that when it’s people that are older than me who try to denigrate me “with love”

When I was your age…

I used to be an atheist because I didn’t understand…

Now that you’re going to have a child you realize God…

The best part about all this negative talk was when someone told my wife I would stop my “anti-christ” comments once the child was born. Let me be clear here. My wife is a believer. She’s a Christian – a liberal one, one of the good one’s. I’ve never tried to “deconvert” her as I would hope she’d never try to convert me. It’s pretty awesome and we’re very respectful about it in our home. You would think that would be enough to keep people out of my marriage. I figure if that works for us then let us continue to live our happy lives.

Now I want to be clear to those people who were trying to “give me advice” under the guise of convincing me I’m wrong for being an atheist…and actually it wasn’t even over being an atheist but rather for not being a Christian. I am not suddenly going to convert to your religion merely because my wife and I created a child. I am not going to have some spiritual epiphany that tells me it is a “child of god” and that I need to lead it down the right path. That’s just the most bogus logical fallacy ever thrown in my direction.

I left the “faith” after 25 years in church. A quarter of a century. Hell, in high school, I shadowed a pastor around during senior year because I was SO DEVOUT I planned on becoming a preacher – a Pentecostal, hellfire and brimstone kinda preacher. So needless to say when I discovered many of the mysteries of life and found that they weren’t mysteries but that the church was just ignorant it pissed me off. I lost a lot of friends and was fortunate enough to live overseas at the time, because I was unable to engage the people back home. It could have been a lot more friends lost. I didn’t come to the decision lightly. I even planned on becoming a preacher after I exited the Marines. Clearly that plan has changed now.

The knowledge that I gained (which is far too deep to delve into at this juncture) shook me to the core and I felt guilty for finding out the truth. I don’t know if there’s a god. And let’s be honest, NEITHER DO YOU! Your emotional response to outside and inward stimuli are not proof nor evidence of a divine being. People today that “hear god’s voice” are institutionalized. So don’t patronize me with these efforts to prove god’s existence through your small microscopic lense. Let’s also be clear about another point: If there is a god, it’s not your god. The god of any man-made text is clearly man-made. It is a reflection of the writer. Every person’s god is merely a reflection of who they are and what they believe. People can manipulate those texts and extrapolate from them whatever is a better reflection of themselves. It’s obvious by the fact that there are both liberal and conservative Christians, liberal and conservative Muslims, Buddhists that are atheistic and Buddhists that believe in heaven and hell. You hold no monopoly on some “divine inspiration”.

The only god that could possibly exist would be Spinoza’s god. Spinoza? Who is that? Baruch Spinoza was a Jew who rejected the divinity of god and stated that if god existed he was a part of the natural phenomena, not a divine being or some personal god. An impersonal one. Perhaps even just a math quandry. Something that just helped hold the universe together (and perhaps unified it). Albert Einstein, when he speaks of god, is referring to Spinoza’s God. And Einstein, even in all his brilliance, still made vast errors in his assumptions. It cost him so much in the advancement of astrophysics because he refused to believe that the universe wasn’t completely unified. Quantum Mechanics and teleporting electrons were too “unholy” for him to believe were in fact…real. And yet today we know that unlocking the secrets of the Quanta is the key to the future.

If someone like Einstein was so wrong then what gives you the audacity to claim superior knowledge on something unknowable? That’s the difference between you and I. I don’t know what is. But I do know what isn’t. You claim my atheism is a belief. It is not. Disbelief is not belief. It is the lack thereof. I have never seen evidence to show me there is a god. A rainstorm is not evidence. Having my prayers answered 50% of the time is not evidence. Even an emotional response to a situation where I might “feel the presence” of god is not evidence. How can I make that claim? Because I have evidence that shows where rain comes from, that prayer is actually detrimental to people in hospitals when they know they are being prayed for, and that emotions are due to a traceable chemical reaction within our brains and our bodies. I’ve gained insight into the world and, yes, you may have some of that same knowledge but you continue to fill it with your “god of the gaps”. Those gaps are slowly filling, but it’s not god that’s being poured into them — it’s knowledge.

So what will I do with the raising of my child? Well, not that it’s any of your concern, but I will do what EVERY parent should do. I will teach them all I know, as will my wife. And we will let THEM decide. We will not indoctrinate. We will not push or prod. We will not demand they acquiesce to either one of our interpretations on the existence or lack of existence of some supreme being. Because that leads NOWHERE~!

Personally, I’d like to hope my child takes a keen interest in science. Nothing would make me prouder. Science and math are the future of the human race. But if my child chooses to become a teacher (what I aspire to be one day), a civil servant, a porn star, or even a preacher I will still love him/her (don’t know yet) all the same.

I’m still an atheist. I’m still not buying it. My love for my child will not take away my reason. My reason is my life. I will pass that on to my child. In closing I leave you with this video of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his view on children.

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About Paul Loebe
  • Paul Loebe

    I’ve been hearing the comments on here won’t work. I received this in an email from user Badgerchild:

    “My father was a Presbyterian church elder since I was born, and died a respected elder of the church he belonged to. My mother was very devout and eventually joined a fundamentalist church. Why is this important? Because I found out, when I was in my 30s, that my father had been a lifelong believer in that ”Spinoza’s God” you mentioned, and my mother had been the only Christian in an atheist family of Jewish heritage. By the time I found out both things, I had become an atheist myself (to the considerable amusement of my mother’s family, who didn’t tell me they also were atheists until Mom’s funeral). My younger brother and his family followed after my mother in religious belief. I asked him about Dad’s beliefs once, and Mike looked very uncomfortable and said our father believed that it was actually more important to be a functioning member of society than to ”go off believing whatever”. Our father, to make a long story short, was an immigrant who refused to speak his native language or teach it to us, a refugee from totalitarianism who idolized Richard Nixon, and a Deist who raised us to be devout. I respect my father for a lot of things, but not for being a goddamned hypocrite.”

  • pbfa

    pffft! Congratulations, and all best wishes for your new fam!

  • Chris Ho-Stuart

    Congratulations! Exciting times. I wish you and your wife and your baby-in-waiting all the very best.

  • peicurmudgeon

    Congratulations. All I can say is that 3 children and 1 grandchild have not budged me from my atheism in any way. Nor have any of the other births, deaths, or other life events since my teen age conversion.

    Of everything I have done in my life, parenthood has been the most amazing.

  • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ KevinKat

    Congratulations!!!

  • Carol Lynn

    Congratulations! It’s OK. It’ll work out. I’m an atheist. My husband is a social Christian who for a time was a deacon of his liberal church. We gave the kids Sunday school exposure (if only for the cultural background) and I answered all their questions honestly and appropriately for their age as they grew up. As adults, one is a vague Spinozan deist and the other is an outright atheist. My husband and I are still happily married more than 30 years later.

  • dockbillin

    I’m an atheist and a non-breeder, but if you’re going to breed, it’s better that you’re someone who’s not going to brainwash their child than otherwise.

    • Paul Loebe

      That is actually a very real problem. The religious have more kids than the non. And that leads to a new generation needing to be taught acceptance and reality after 18 years of dogma.

      • godlessveteran

        Just means there will a constant supply of ignorant, unskilled labor to be employed to ask the educated atheist customer “Would you like fries with that?”

  • Ted Thompson

    “I left the “faith” after 25 years in church. A quarter of a century. Hell, in high school, I shadowed a pastor around during senior year because I was SO DEVOUT I planned on becoming a preacher – a Pentecostal, hellfire and brimstone kinda preacher. So needless to say when I discovered many of the mysteries of life and found that they weren’t mysteries but that the church was just ignorant it pissed me off. I lost a lot of friends and was fortunate enough to live overseas at the time, because I was unable to engage the people back home. It could have been a lot more friends lost. I didn’t come to the decision lightly. I even planned on becoming a preacher after I exited the Marines. Clearly that plan has changed now.”

    That’s funny. I could have written that, word for word. I know I’ve said it before. Likin the blog, Devil Dog.

    • Paul Loebe

      Semper Fi!

  • Miss_Beara

    The last picture is amazing.

    • Paul Loebe

      Thank you. My wife is pretty brilliant!

  • jack taint

    so you wont be baptizing this baby? that would be going against your wifes beliefs big time. what that means to her religion is if anything awful happens to your kid he would not get to go to heaven because he was not baptized..

    • RowanVT

      Not if she’s a liberal christian. My mother is a liberal christian and while both her offspring are atheists, she does NOT think we are going to hell because to her God is Love… and love has no room for torture. She doesn’t believe in hell at all.

      • Alice

        And even a large number of fundamentalists do not believe in infant baptism or that babies/children go to hell.

  • jack taint

    by the way I am athiest as well..

  • http://neitherheadsnortails.blogspot.com/ Kris Thompson

    Oh, gosh, I heard all the “Aren’t you going to baptise him . . . JUST IN CASE?” crap. Gee, I dunno–when your grandpa kicks, are you going to clasp a sword in his hand and torch him on a dragon-prowed ship crammed full of treasure and a virgin or three to keep him occupied up there in Asgaard? No? Why not? Exactly the same.

  • E Pack Rich

    Congrats on the baby. My husband & I left “the faith”, when our 2nd
    child was a couple of months old. Being a housewife/stay-at-home-mom,
    with more time to watch The History Channel, and do a little thinking is
    what did it for us. Our children, 8 & 5, enjoying going to Sunday
    school at their grandparents church. They find Noah & the Flood just
    as entertaining as Santa. They also have a good grasp on reality, &
    are fascinated by the wonders of Science.

  • Japooh

    I sort of keep an eye on your blog from a distance (I pay attention to military matters because of family members in service) and have always been impressed with your writing. This post is among the best that I’ve read of yours. Excellent job making very important points!

    And the picture at the top is wonderful. Congratulations on the pending family addition and best wishes to you and your wife as you start on this new journey!

  • Jeremy Hellman

    My wife goes to church. I have no interest. Like you, we let our 3 kids decide. Bugs the in-laws immensely but I don’t see why we would pick our kids’ spiritual path any more than we would pick who they marry or what career they choose.

  • HolyChrist

    I don’t understand how people say we don’t know what happens when we die. Every shred of our understanding about our bodies and the universe tell us that it’s nothing. You body decomposes. We eat life to survive and when we die other life eats us.

    We understand that our brain controls every aspect of our personality and memories. This can be affected by physical damage, the introduction of chemicals (good and bad drugs), etc.

    We are biological machines. Nothing points to the contrary.

  • Frank Key

    Congratulations, you two. Just as there really are atheists in foxholes, so there are atheists at crib side. Have fun on the most rewarding journey of your lives.

  • Amber Lynn

    You don’t have to explain yourself…have a wonderful life and enjoy your first baby!

    • Sauls Thomas

      all brains no balls

      for the lying “mental cases” @ FTB

      groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.atheism/WHwp_OkxH34

      ,,..,.,.,,,

      • RowanVT

        Mabus? Weren’t you told, twice, to stop this?

  • te’Shara

    I’m a pastor paired up with an atheist and it’s never been an issue. Just because your shoes don’t fit someone else’s feet doesn’t mean they can’t have nice kicks.

    • Paul Loebe

      I know, right? I figure if it works then everyone else needs to keep their noses out of it. We’re very happy and agree on everything except this one teensy weensy issue.

  • Roger Morris

    Some good points (“Your emotional response to outside and inward stimuli are not proof or evidence of a divine being… an emotional response to a situation where I might ‘feel the presence’ of God is not evidence”), but still too much defensiveness and venom to convince me that you are a “relaxed, indifferent atheist”.

    It’s Ok to captilize ‘God’ you know – and still be an atheist. How the name of the being you disbelieve in is written shouldn’t be such an issue for you. I would put you in the “angry, post-fundamentalism adolescence” stage of disbelief. Please don’t just exchange the religiosity of your youth for a kitch scientistic religiosity (“Science and math are the future of the human race”). Out of the pan and into the fire.

    Please also don’t assume that being a materialist means you must blindly accept scientific reductionism (“Emotions are due to a traceable chemical reaction in our brains”). That is just putting reality into a box as much as Christian fundamentalists do – easy believe-ism still. Perhaps it’s a case of “you can take the fundamentalist out of the church…”.

    All in all, I encourage you to broaden your horizons away from the angry, sloganistic atheism of Dawkins, Krauss, etc – your article is too plagiaristic of their one-liners. With so much anger and venom towards the God you now disbelieve in, I can only imagine that may put your marriage under stress when everyone is tired and stressed with a crying baby in the house.

    • Sophia Sadek

      There is a significant difference between God and the gods. For one thing, we have more evidence of the creation of God in the image of humans than we have for the creation of the gods. God was crafted relatively recently in human history. The gods were created during prehistoric times.

      I do not get the impression that the post was written out of anger. It seems more like frustration. It is a shame that the members of the religion in which Paul was raised are so hostile to him. Such hostility to a former member is the characteristic trait of a cult.

    • Paul Loebe

      You’re making a lot of assumptions. First I’m not the angry atheist. You don’t know me and the vast majority of my friends happen to be Christians who support what I do, including my wife.

      Of course I was upset. Who really believes a baby will change my belief in a higher power? That’s so dumb. I’ve also never read Krauss, Hitchens, Dennett, or pretty much any of the famous “New Atheists” so any rehashed one-liner is actually my own “one-liner”.

      Lastly, if you don’t believe that science and math are the future of the human race I highly suggest you reevaluate your position. Whatever society, historically, that has embraced science and math have paved the way for human advancement. That’s fact. If we reach for the stars we may actually reach them. If I were good enough at math I’d seek to be an astrophysicist. As it is I must just admire the work they do.

    • Paul Loebe

      I was upset but I’m not the angry atheist you are tryin to paint me as. I think for myself and I speak for myself. My “one-liners” must be easy conclusions to come to as I’ve never read Krauss, Dawkins, or whoever else.

      And if you honestly don’t believe that science and math are the future of humanity then you need to do some serious research. Neil Tyson happens to be the person who has influenced my worldview the most and he’s neither angry nor an atheist. I wish I were smart enough to work in astrophysics but as it is I am forced to just observe from the sidelines and cheer as the giants continue to make discoveries that alter our lives for the better.

      You want to paint me with such a broad brush that does not reflect who I am at all.

      • Roger Morris

        Fair enough. You allude to the fact that you have in the past made “Anti-Christ” statements publicly (or at least in your immediate sphere of influence) – or so Christians have alleged about you. This sounds more like a pro-active atheist than a neutral, disinterested atheist. Given that your wife is a Christian – albeit presumably a relaxed “liberal” one – I still wonder how your “anti-Christ” comments affect her.

        Does she repay in kind with “anti-atheist” comments in her immediate sphere of influence?

        You say your partnership works well. I certainly hope it does. In my experience though, these tensions of ultimate worldview may sometimes become an issue at times when things aren’t so rosy in relationships – exactly like the tiredness, stress and lack of intimacy that inevitably follows the birth of a child (especially a first child). Believe me – I have three. :-)

        Are either of you concerned that the stress of a new baby may reveal cracks in the relationship that come from such divergent views of reality that you share?

        • Paul Loebe

          I never stated I was saying “anti-Christ” comments. That was a direct quote from someone else. My wife even shook her head at the idiocy of the comment.

          As far as how our relationship works I’d say we’re doing quite well. We’ve been together for a very long time. Prior to getting married we discussed everything from politics, economics, budgets, careers, higher education, children. It was a conversation that lasted many months.

          We came up with a plan on exposing our children to every viewpoint…even those neither of us agreed with.

          • Roger Morris

            Well, good luck and enjoy parenthood.

          • Paul Loebe

            Thank you.

  • kknutwood

    Angry, angry, emotionally not logically driven man…

    • Paul Loebe

      Please refute with some logical argument if you think you hold the intellectual high ground. Sure, I was upset. The logical fallacy believing I will find god due to having a child is ludicrous. Please, show me where my points were illogical and not based on facts.

    • Paul Loebe

      Please explain my lack of logic.

  • SansDeus

    Congrats! Excellent pics.

    My wife and I are having our first soon too and boy does time fly.

    The comments you get from others are amusing…

    My mother had a funny reaction about me coming out as atheist and asked how could I tell lies to my children. My response was slightly blunt “You did it and I turned out fine!”

  • danving queen

    Congrats on the baby news. I became an atheist back in 2003 after working on my daughter’s science projects. Do you have time to watch “Big Bang Theory”? Great show!


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